Experienced coaches could be new NHL trend | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaExperienced coaches could be new NHL trend

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 | 12:15 PM

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Hiring the seasoned Darryl Sutter, right as their head coach paid off for the Los Angeles Kings in the form of a pair of Stanley Cups. (Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) Hiring the seasoned Darryl Sutter, right as their head coach paid off for the Los Angeles Kings in the form of a pair of Stanley Cups. (Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

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With the recent success of Darryl Sutter, Joel Quenneville and Claude Julien, talented, ready-to-win teams may look to experienced coaches to lead the way.

When a 38-year-old Dan Bylsma steered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship five years ago, the trend in the NHL became to hire head coaches from the AHL.

Scott Arniel, Kirk Muller, Kevin Dineen, Dallas Eakins, Todd Richards, Mike Yeo, Guy Boucher and Randy Cunneyworth all went from an AHL job to behind an NHL bench after Bylsma's title run.

Richards had a season-long stopover as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks before he took over the 2009-10 Minnesota Wild. Cunneyworth went from the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs to the 2011-12 Montreal Canadiens as an assistant coach, but became the head coach 32 games into the season.

Bylsma had only 54 games of head coaching experience in the AHL before he took over the Penguins late in the 2008-09 season. But it wasn't only Bylsma's exploits in Pittsburgh. The immediate success of Bruce Boudreau behind the Washington Capitals' bench certainly helped the cause of the good AHL coach.

Experience over youth?

It will be interesting to see if that trend continues with the NHL's four remaining vacant head coaching positions (with Pittsburgh, the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks). Or will veteran coaches like Marc Crawford and Ron Wilson get the nod?

The recent Stanley Cups won by veteran coaches Joel Quenneville, Claude Julien and Darryl Sutter -- in, respectively, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles -- can't be ignored.

Maybe if a team has the talent in place and appears ready to win -- like the Penguins and Canucks -- it would be more prudent to go with a veteran coach.

To review, here is a synopsis of the last five Stanley Cup-winning head coaches.

  • 2009-10 Chicago: Quenneville was 51 year old and with his third team after stints with the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche.
  • 2010-11 Boston: Julien was 51 and with his third NHL team after stops in Montreal and with the New Jersey Devils.
  • 2011-12 Los Angeles: Sutter was 53 and with his fourth NHL club after leading the Blackhawks, Sharks and Calgary Flames.
  • 2012-13 Chicago: Quenneville was 54 and earned his third Stanley Cup ring to go with his previous title with the Blackhawks and as an assistant with the 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche.
  • 2013-14 Los Angeles: Now 55, Sutter will return next year. When he reluctantly agreed to coach the Kings in December 2011, he hadn't coached in the NHL since 2006.

Not every veteran coach is going to be a success. There are exceptions to the proverbial rule. John Tortorella, 55, was proof of that in Vancouver this past season. He was a bust.

There also are cases like Richards, who has enjoyed better times with the Columbus Blue Jackets in his second go-around in the NHL after a difficult start with the Wild.

But if you look at the final four teams this spring, there were four veteran coaches leading the way in the experienced Sutter, Quenneville, 53-year-old Alain Vigneault of the New York Rangers and Montreal's 50-year-old Michel Therrien.

Still, as the Canucks, Penguins, Panthers and Hurricanes narrow their searches for a new head coach, there appears to be a wide variety of candidates out there being considered:

Scott Arniel

Age: 51.

Hometown: Kingston, Ont.

NHL experience: Fired halfway through his second season in Columbus, but was a big part of Vigneault's staff in the Rangers' run to the final this season.

Dan Bylsma

Age: 43.

Hometown: Grand Haven, Mich.

NHL experience: In six seasons with the Penguins, won 43 playoff games and the 2008-09 Stanley Cup. Career NHL record is 252-117-32.

Marc Crawford

Age: 53.

Hometown: Belleville, Ont.

NHL experience: Steered Colorado to a Stanley Cup in 1995-96 and to West final the following year, but didn't make the playoffs in his last five seasons as coach of the Canucks, Kings and Dallas Stars.

Willie Desjardins

Age: 57.

Hometown: Climax, Sask.

NHL experience: Spent two years as an associate coach with Dallas before taking over the Stars' AHL affiliate and winning the Calder Cup this year.

Kevin Dineen

Age: 50.

Hometown: Toronto.

NHL experience: Guided Florida to a 2012 playoff berth, then was fired last November. Rebounded to lead the Canadian women to Olympic gold in Sochi.

Mike Johnston

Age: 56.

Hometown: Dartmouth, N.S.

NHL experience: Spent eight years as Crawford's associate coach in Vancouver and Los Angeles and the past six as coach/GM of the Portland Winter Hawks.

Ulf Samuelsson

Age: 50.

Hometown: Fagersta, Sweden.

NHL experience: Also was on the Rangers' staff this season after a two-year stint as Modo's head coach and five years as an associate coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Ron Wilson

Age: 59.

Hometown: Fort Erie, Ont.

NHL experience: Won 648 games in 18 seasons with Anaheim, Washington, San Jose and Toronto and made the 1998 Stanley Cup final with the Capitals.

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